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EAAer Plans Flights for Life Charity Mission

Flights for Life
Kim Christian hopes to raise $5,000 for the American Cancer Society flying his Xair to various air shows, including EAA AirVenture Oshkosh in 2009.

May 1, 2008 — When a loved one dies, most people grieve in silence. But not Kim Christian (EAA 786526).

After his mother-in-law, Adrienne Eldridge, died in 2007 just two months after being diagnosed with lung cancer, he and his wife, who is also named Kim, began an effort to raise awareness and money for the American Cancer Society.

Their effort, called The Flights for Life, is taking an open cockpit airplane - an Xair Standard experimental amateur-built aircraft - and flying a series of solo flights to air shows in Arizona and New Mexico in 2008-09. The final flight will be a 1,500-mile cross-country journey from Bisbee, Arizona, to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh in July 2009.

"Having seen the effects and results of this disease first hand, we wanted to try and do something that would help other families, victims and survivors in a search for the end to cancer," Christian said. "This just hit too close to home to not do anything. Her death was too sudden, and it was time to take action."

The Christians travel to nearby air shows, collecting donations, selling T-shirts and educating others about cancer. So far their efforts have raised about $1,000, or about 20 percent of their $5,000 goal.

The Flights For Life will be at the Copperstate Regional Fly-In at Casa Grande, Arizona and at the Wings and Spurs Fly-In at Tombstone, Arizona, both in October 2008.

Mrs. Christian is the coordinator, and helps plans the events, while Mr. Christian is the pilot.

"This is turning out to be more work than either of us ever dreamed," he said. "There are so many small details - from deciding what lettering to use on the T-shirts to keeping the Internet site updated. It consumes quite a bit of time, but we enjoy it and it has a good purpose."

Christian earned his private pilot license in 1979 and has logged nearly 1,400 hours of flight time. He's now flying as a sport pilot. Although he's never been to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, Christian plans to attend this year to do some fact-finding and determine which airports he'll use when he flies in next year.

His main focus now is to garner support. "We need pledges to pay for gas - it runs on standard car gas - to get to Oshkosh," Christian said. "We need donations to the American Cancer Society, and we need sponsorships."

Christian has already received sponsor commitments from Lightspeed Aviation headsets, SouthernXair, and Edward Jones Investments.

For more information, visit www.theflightsforlife.com, or e-mail Christian at christians49@netscape.com.

About the airplane

  • The Xair kitplane took 180 hours to build; its first flight was in January 2006.
  • It is powered by a 64-horsepower Rotax 582 engine turning a 72-inch Powerfin ground adjustable propeller.
  • It is a three-axis airplane with full dual controls.
  • Cruise speed is around 60/65 mph (depending on winds) and it has a stall speed of 30 mph.
  • For the trip to Oshkosh, fuel tanks under the wings will be installed.

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